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Posts tagged 'Fiction'

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

 

Cover of "Sourdough" by Robin Sloan Sourdough by Robin Sloan is probably the most enjoyable—and purely readable—book I’ve read this year. It’s an adventure, a puzzle, a glimpse into the future, and a celebration of food. And I learned a lot about bread, which usually doesn’t happen with the books I read.

Lois Clary programs robots at a San Francisco startup. After work, she orders the soup and sandwich combo from the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall that two brothers of indeterminable ethnicity run. Sadly, the brothers must return to Europe (visa issues) but as a parting gift, they give Lois their starter—the living bacteria culture that gives sourdough bread its signature taste. Desperately seeking a hobby, Lois bakes some bread, and discovers she has quite the knack for it. While tasty, the loaves are a little strange. Are those faces in the crust? And late at night, is the culture…singing? Lois doesn’t have time to worry about these peculiarities, as she starts supplying her work cafeteria with sourdough. Soon, she finds herself working at a strange sort of farmers market where other gourmands are hard at work fusing technology and food. But will the culture behave long enough for Lois to make a living from baking? And just who is this Mr. Marrow that bankrolls the project?

Sourdough is Robin Sloan’s second novel, following the perennial librarian favorite Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. The two books share some DNA: they both feature hapless geeks who find themselves at the intersection of a rustic craft and the latest technology, while a mysterious organization watches over the whole operation. Anyone who liked Mr. Penumbra will enjoy Sourdough, and vice versa. Oh, and like Mr. Penumbra’s the cover glows in the dark. Check it out!

Jake Picks  Humor  Fiction  Contemporary

 

Fredrik Backman's Britt-Marie Was Here

Backman BMWHHappily, here is the newest book (published May 3, 2016) from Fredrik Backman, author of <i>A Man Called Ove</i>.

The main character, Britt-Marie, was a minor character in Backman’s previous book <i>My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry</i>, and you don’t need to read them in any order. As the book opens, Britt-Marie finds herself at an unexpected turning point in her otherwise orderly and clean life.

When her husband Kent has a heart attack in his young mistress’s bed, Britt-Marie decides it’s time to move on.

She turns to the Swedish social services agency that helps people find work, and secures a temporary job at the community center in the tiny town of Borg. What exactly she is supposed to be doing there is unclear, so, when in doubt, Britt-Marie brings order by cleaning.

Swedish Literature  Relationships  Nancy's Picks  Literary Fiction  Humor  Fiction  European Literature  Drama  Contemporary

05/06/16
 

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

 The Secret Wisdom of the Earth has been compared to To Kill A Mockingbird (for its small town aura), Cold Mountain (for its gorgeous descriptions of mountainous nature) and Flight Behavior (for presenting the reader with environmental information in the context of a page-turning novel.) Scotton’s writing has further been compared to that of Mark Twain and John Irving.

14-year old Kevin and his mother Anne arrive from Indiana to spend the summer at Anne’s father’s house in Medgar, Kentucky, deep in coal mining country. Kevin’s younger brother died in a tragic accident, and his father hopes that he and his mother will benefit from time away at Anne’s childhood home. 

“Pops,” Anne’s father, is the revered town veterinarian. He enlists Kevin as his assistant, taking him in and out of the rural hollers to treat animals of all kinds. Kevin makes friends with a local boy, Buzzy Fink, who introduces Kevin to swimming holes, hiking trails, and long standing country traditions. Pops takes the boys on a ritual two week “tramp” through the mountains, during which time they will live off the land, and fend for themselves. The three of them face unexpected obstacles on their journey; roles switch as Kevin and Buzzy take their turns as the hero.

Several subplots simmer beneath the surface of this coming of age/journey novel.

Mining has long been a source of jobs in Medgar, but the new method of coal mining, which involves literally blowing the tops off of the mountains, has pitted the locals against each other. Set in 1985, the story also addresses the small town resident’s attitudes toward homosexuality. Mr. Paul has grown up among them, and everyone has known that he has a special relationship with his housemate. When Mr. Paul organizes locals in protest against the mountain top removal of coal, things get ugly, and his personal life is exposed in public.

I recommend this book for so many reasons. It is old fashioned story telling at its best: the book spans one summer without jumping back in forth in time, or using multiple narrative points of view.  Christopher Scotton’s powers of description are amazing, his characters vivd. 

Nancy

Nancy Picks  Fiction

07/09/15
 

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